Mexico now has the third-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, behind the United States and Brazil. Mexican health officials on Friday reported 688 new deaths, pushing the country’s total to 46,688. That put Mexico just ahead of the United Kingdom, which has 46,119, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, former “success story” Vietnam is struggling to control an outbreak spreading in its most famous beach resort. A third person died in the country of coronavirus complications, officials said Saturday, a day after it recorded its first-ever death as it struggles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days with no local cases.
China reported a more than 50% drop in newly confirmed cases in a possible sign that its latest major outbreak in the northwestern region of Xinjiang may have run its course. However, in Hong Kong, infections continue to surge, with more than 100 new cases reported as of Saturday among the population of 7.5 million. Officials have reimposed dining restrictions and mask requirements.
South Korean prosecutors arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect linked to more than 5,200 of the country’s 14,336 confirmed cases. He has denied charges of hiding members and underreporting gatherings to avoid broader quarantines.
Here’s a roundup of the other major stories regarding coronavirus around the world:
India recorded its steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections. Is public negligence causing a surge in cases? Read our full story here.
Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks as the popular tourist destination sees an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases. Read more about how a cluster of COVID-19 cases on US military bases shocked the prefecture.
The pandemic prompted an unprecedented slump in the eurozone, the group of 19 EU states that use the euro currency. The area’s GDP dropped by over 12 percent during the second quarter of 2020. Read our full story here.
In Germany, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 955 over the past 24 hours, to a total of 209,653, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 7 to 9148, the tally showed.
Poland is mulling new anti-pandemic steps after reporting record high numbers of new cases for two consecutive days.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is putting “the brakes on” easing lockdown measures while imposing new regulations in northern England. Having small crowds at sporting events will be prohibited until at least August 15. Read our full story here.
Read more: Germany plans mandatory coronavirus tests for travelers from Luxembourg
Rising death tolls in countries like Brazil and Mexico have cemented Latin America’s status as one of the epicenters of the virus as cases in the region have doubled over the past month to more than 4.7 million infections. The real number of infections is likely to be higher, as comparatively fewer people are being tested there. Read our full story here.
Colombia, where lockdowns are planned through the end of August, passed the 10,000 death benchmark on Friday, tallying 10,105 fatalities. The Andean country is expected to reach 300,000 total cases over the weekend.
In the US, Hurricane Isaias’ imminent arrival forced the closure of some outdoor testing sites even as Florida reached a new daily high in deaths.
The top US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, testified before Congress on Friday. A statement released ahead of the hearing said he would tell lawmakers that it was still “unclear how long the pandemic will last.”
During his testimony, Fauci refused to recommend that protests taking place in Portland and other US cities be limited because of the risk posed by the Coronavirus, foiling efforts by Trump ally and Republican Representative Jim Jordan.
“I’m not favoring anybody over anybody” but people “should stay away from crowds, no matter what the crowds are,” Fauci said.
The expert was cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a vaccine being available by the end of the year, although access would likely be assigned on a needs basis. “Ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he said.
Muslim pilgrims in Mecca started the ritual stoning of the devil, one of the final rites of the hajj pilgrimage, throwing sterilized pebbles at a pillar due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Just 10,000 people, all of them Saudi-based, have been allowed to attend the religious event rather than the 2.5 million people from around the world who normally make the pilgrimage. All pilgrims had been tested for the virus, and were required to wear masks and observe social distancing.
Ahead of this year’s hajj, the most important pilgrimage for Muslims, crews at the Grand Mosque were busy with more than just the usual cleaning and maintenance work. To keep people at a distance from each other and avoid spreading the virus, strips of tape have been stuck to the ground around the Kaaba, Islam’s most sacred site, showing people where to walk.
In past, tens of thousands of faithful have thronged to Mecca. This year, however, crowds were more manageable — only 10,000 people were allowed to attend. Participants were chosen in an online process. Their temperature was checked upon arrival in Mecca, and they were quarantined for two weeks.
Pilgrims at the Grand Mosque are required to keep the proscribed distance from each other, circling the sanctuary counterclockwise seven times while staying at least 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) from the next pilgrim. They are also strictly forbidden from touching the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building in the center.
Wearing face masks, these security officers have set an example for the pilgrims chosen to participate in the 2020 hajj. The pilgrims are Saudi, or foreigners living in Saudi Arabia; arrivals by plane weren’t allowed this year. Saudi Arabia has been severely affected by the pandemic, with more than 270,000 infections reported as of late July and around 3,000 to 4,000 new cases every day.
Faithful Muslims are obliged to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lives, as long as they are healthy and of age and “if they find a possibility to do so,” according to the Quran (surah 3, verse 97). The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.
The ritual stoning of Satan at Mina, near Mecca, is part of the hajj pilgrimage. Here too, people must keep their distance. The pilgrims also receive disinfected stones for the ritual, a prayer rug and hand sanitizer.
In 2018, more than 2 million faithful made the journey to Mecca, with many staying in this tent city in Mina. In addition to its religious significance, the hajj is also an economic event: Past pilgrimages have netted Saudi Arabia more than €10 billion ($11.8 billion) annually. In Mecca and the surrounding area, hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on the event.
As the continent approaches 1 million confirmed infections, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Africa still has a “very good chance of beating back this virus” with a comprehensive strategy that includes testing assertively.
Meanwhile, the country with nearly half of Africa’s virus caseload, South Africa, has eased its 9 p.m. curfew by an hour.
And The UN food agency has warned that nearly 60% of Zimbabwe’s population could become “food-insecure” by December without a further $250 million (€210 million) aid package.
Read more: Africa’s Muslims woeful over scaled-down hajj
The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 have risen sharply in Brazil. With many of the rituals surrounding death and grief prohibited due to the pandemic, people are finding new ways to mourn lost loved ones.
Read the full story here
While many countries are easing their lockdowns, others are reporting more and more new COVID-19 cases every day. DW has taken a look at what the data tell us about a potential second wave.
Read the full story here
Across Europe, people have been going to raves and block parties, despite lockdown measures banning mass gatherings. What’s driving them? Is it the beat, or an act of resistance and an assertion of power and identity?
Read the full story here
In Germany, every second person surveyed feels psychologically burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. What are the social consequences of the higher stress levels? Are people becoming more aggressive? Watch here to find out:
sri/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)